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Criticizing Venezuela’s Maduro Irresponsibly


A previous article explained. President Nicolas Maduro granted Snowden asylum. He did so responsibly. He did it courageously. He wants him protected from unjustifiable US persecution.

“Who is the guilty one,” he asked? “A young man who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president, Bashar al-Assad?”

Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and other Latin American countries adopted the Cochabamba Declaration.

It denounced France, Portugal, Italy and Spain for denying Evo Morales’ plane airspace and landing rights. Doing so risked his life.

On July 7, Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O’Grady criticized Maduro. She did so irresponsibly. She twisted truth, headlining “Why Venezuela Offers Asylum to Snowden,” saying:

He’s “attempting to distract Venezuelans from the increasingly difficult daily economic grind and get them to rally around the flag by putting a thumb in Uncle Sam’s eye.”

He “has reason to fear increasing irrelevance as North America becomes more energy independent. This makes Iran crucial.”

He’s “trying to establish himself as a leader as committed to the anti-American cause as was his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who had a strong personal bond with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

He’s telling Washington he “has no intention of changing the course of the Bolivarian revolution.”

Fact check

O’Grady’s paid to lie. She’s a reliable imperial tool. She represents monied interests. She deplores populist ones. Responsible editors wouldn’t touch her rubbish. Journal ones embrace it.

Venezuela has the world largest proved oil reserves. They’re highly valued. China and many other countries have longstanding contractual relations. They buy substantial amounts.

Venezuela’s in no danger of running out of customers. It sells all the oil it produces.

Maduro isn’t anti-American. He’s anti-imperial harshness. He’s pro-government of, by and for everyone. He’s for equity and justice for all. He champions Bolivarian fairness. It’s polar opposite what O’Grady supports.

She claims Venezuela’s economy is deteriorating. She lied saying so. In 2011, growth was 4.8%. In 2012, it was 5.6%. In 2013, around 6% is forecast. These numbers shame America’s stagnating condition. It reflects a nation in decline. O’Grady didn’t explain.

She said “reaching out to Snowden (tells) the world that” John Kerry’s “rapprochement with Caracas last month (won’t) chang(e) the course of the Bolivarian revolution.”

Kerry’s approach reflects longstanding US duplicity. On July 5, he congratulated Venezuela on its Day of Independence. He did so disingenuously.

Independent governments aren’t tolerated. They’re targeted for regime change. Democratic ones are deplored. Washington wants subservient pro-Western vassal states.

Doing the right thing is its own reward. O’Grady berated Maduro for “want(ing) to become (even more) geopolitical(ly) all(ied) and strategic(ally) partner(ed with) Russia and Iran.”

Maduro seek equitable relations with all nations. He criticizes ones targeting Venezuela unfairly.

O’Grady falsely calls Maduro “illegitimate.” She claims “half of the Venezuelan electorate” believe it. She does based on close election results.

Maduro triumphed democratically. Voting was independently monitored. Results were carefully audited. He won fair and square. Venezuela’s process is scrupulously legitimate. It’s the world’s best.

Venezuelans are enfranchised at birth. It’s constitutionally mandated. They alone decide who’ll rule. Americans have no say whatever. Duopoly power rules. Monied interests run things.

Venezuelans have real democracy. They enjoy Bolivarian fairness. They benefit in ways Americans can’t imagine.

O’Grady claims “Venezuela needs liberalization.” She means US-style force-fed neoliberal harshness. She mischaracterized Venezuela other ways.

She’s done so numerous times before. She’s paid to do so. She claimed granting Snowden asylum gives aid and comfort “to the enemies of (America’s) enemies.”

It gives it to supporters of equity and justice. Don’t expect O’Grady to explain.

A separate Journal article criticized Maduro unfairly. It said he rejects Washington’s extradition request.

“The government of the United States presented to our foreign ministry….a scrap of paper requesting the extradition of the young (Edward) Snowden,” Maduro said.

“They do not have the moral right to request the extradition of a young man who is only warning of the illegalities committed by the Pentagon and the CIA and the United States.”

“As head of state, I reject any request for extradition. (Washington’s) simply disregarding bilateral agreements.”

A previous article said Maduro wants Luis Posada Carriles extradited. He conspired with Orlando Bosch. They’re responsible for downing Cubana flight 455. In 1976, all 78 passengers aboard died.

Bosch died in April 2011. Carriles remains free in Miami. He’s a wanted man. He’s a former CIA operative. He admitted responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks. Washington protects him. It rejects Venezuela’s request for justice.

The Journal article included denigrating remarks made by Political Science Professor Javier Corrales. He’s a former Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars fellow.

He performed World Bank, UN and Center for Global Development (CGD) consulting services.

GDC board of director members include notorious past Western government and corporate officials. They include Larry Summers, John Lipsky, Mark Malloch-Brown, C. Boyden Grey, Nancy Birdsall, Robert Mosbacher, Jr., C. Fred Bergsten, David Gergen, and Sheryl Sandberg among others.

Corrales wrongfully accused Venezuela of violating press freedom and other human rights abuses. He assailed Ecuador’s Rafael Correa the same way.

Inter-American Dialogue president Michael Shifter was cited saying “Maduro founded it irresistible (to) ratchet things up” based on “(w)hat happened in Europe.”

He blamed Washington. “It touched a nerve, and it was seen as such an insult that it required a very strong response.”

Shifter omitted explaining that Maduro said Snowden deserved asylum. He did so before Evo Morales was targeted. He’s welcome in Venezuela, he said. His official announcement confirmed earlier comments. He surprised no one.

The Journal expanded on Shifter’s comments. Maduro’s facing increasing criticism, it said. He hasn’t yet consolidated power. He’s been in office less than three months. Journal contributors didn’t explain.

Washington Post editors claim Maduro, like Chavez, has “deep antipathy” toward America. He’s not anti-American. He’s anti US imperialism.

The Los Angeles Times called Snowden “a pawn in Venezuelan politics.” Maduro’s less concerned about protecting Snowden, it said. He’s more focused on “trying to annoy the United States while invoking the fiery rhetoric of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.”

The Chicago Tribune disparaged Maduro. It did so by calling him a “Latin American leftist leader.” Bolivarian democratic fairness wasn’t explained.

Reuters and other media sources denigrated him. Their way was calling him a former “bus driver.” He’s a highly respected leader.

He’s a former union official, National Assembly speaker, Foreign Minister and vice president. Don’t expect media scoundrels explain.

If Snowden finds safe haven in Venezuela, expect lots more flack targeting him and supportive host government officials. It’s the American way.

A Final Comment

Mark Weisbrot wants Snowden able to tell more. What began as a 21st century Pentagon Papers expose, he said, became “the citizens and residents of the United States (against) an abusive, unaccountable government violating our rights and our constitution in secret.”

Media scoundrels shifted the narrative. ” ‘Us’ now means ‘America,’ ” said Weisbrot. Lawless NSA and administration officials are called national security protectors. Wrongdoers are considered aggrieved victims. Real ones are called terrorists.

Snowden’s a “fugitive leaker.” Others call him a “traitorous spy.” He’s a wanted man. He and Julian Assange are best known.

They’re important. They’re able to reach millions of people globally. Obama hasn’t commented on Maduro’s asylum offer. Snowden needs freedom to tell more.

“He needs to speak,” said Weisbrot - not only to save himself, but also future whistleblowers whom the Obama administration wants to silence by punishing him.”

“What is at stake is the whole cause of human rights, especially the right to asylum.”

“The citizens of the world need to see that triumph over the intimidation from those who believe that raw power is all that counts.”

Hopefully Snowden’s able to stay free. Hopefully Maduro and/or other responsible leaders will protect him. Hopefully he’ll tell more. Everyone needs to know what he’s able to explain. He’s committed to do so.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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About the author

Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960.   After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at year end 1999.   Supporting progressive causes and organizations, he began writing in summer 2005 on a broad range of issues. Topics regularly addressed include war and peace; social, economic and political equity; and justice for long-suffering peoples globally - notably, victims of America's imperial wars, Occupied Palestinians and Haitians. In early 2007, he began hosting his own radio program. Currently he hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. Airing three times weekly, it features distinguished guests discussing vital world and national issues in depth. Today perhaps more than ever, vital social, political and economic change is needed. What better way to spend retirement years than working for it. We owe at least that much to our loved ones, friends and humanity.

  • weilunion

    Venezuela’s economy is deteriorating and it is not due to Maduro, Chavez or 21st century socialism. It has to do with devaluation of the currency, world global capitalism and inflation all owed to the long reach of imperialism, banking interests and an internal right wing.

    I will repeat what I said earlier. Venezuela has not granted Snowden asylum, they have ‘offerd asylyum’ and said they will grant it if he decides to go to Venezuela. Bolivia has also offered asylum as has Nicaragua. Snowden has not responded to either Bolivia, Venezuela or Nicaragua and for good reasons.

    Please, let us get the facts straight. Readers, go to Latin American sources for the issues are for more complex. You can read the article I posted on Sunday on this issue.

    I certainly respect the writer’s enthusiasm for Venezuela and their policies but do not underestimate the right wing within the country.

    I live in Ecuador and am in contact with breaking news constantly. US news is unreliable. Go to the Bolivian, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Ecuadorian press for the best updates on this situation.

    • Dcembre

      For wich “good reasons” has Snowden not responded to the countries who offered him asylum ?